Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams

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What is the importance of long stage directions in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams?

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Walter Fischer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Tennessee Williams employed lengthy stage directions in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof because of the complexity of the relationships involved and because of the subtext of potentially repressed homosexuality that runs through the play. When the main characters are introduced, Williams is deliberate in establishing the physical attractiveness and virility of Brick and Maggie, the couple at the center of the play whose strained relationship provides the subtext. In addition to those “attributes,” Williams wants the audience to recognize that, despite this couple’s attractiveness, it is a dysfunctional relationship and one that involves the abuse of alcohol. Note in the following excerpt from the stage direction the playwright’s description of the young, handsome, and seemingly troubled character of Brick:

He is still slim and firm as a boy.—His liquor hasn't started tearing him down outside. He has the additional charm of that cool air of detachment that people have who have given up the...

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